02/16/2011 05:36

Originally, the Agriculture Ministry said two years would be required to save the lake’s fish populations.

The Agriculture Ministry submitted regulations for approval on Tuesday which would prohibit fishing in Lake Kinneret from April 15 to August 15, 2011.

Originally, the ministry said two years would be required to save the fish populations.

The regulations must be approved by the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee. On Tuesday, the MKs approved most of them, but they still has to hammer out the issue of compensation for fishermen who will lose their livelihood for four months.

According to data from the Agriculture and Environmental Protection ministries, if the Kinneret continues to be fished year round, the fish populations will cease to regenerate.

The ministries had drafted a government decision to freeze all fishing in the Kinneret for two years starting this year.

That decision was passed by the cabinet last April. From then until last month, however, the Economic Affairs Committee failed to set a meeting to discuss the required regulations.

The first such meeting was held in January, and due to the vigorous protests at the discussion, the director-general of the Agriculture Ministry ordered an expert committee to reexamine the issue ahead of Tuesday’s session.

The expert committee decided that prohibiting fishing during the months when the fish were reproducing each year – April to August – would be enough to allow their populations to recover.

The regulations that the ministry submitted on Tuesday only call for prohibiting fishing this year. Ministry spokeswoman Dafna Yurista told The Jerusalem Post that the regulations would most likely have to be approved separately each year.

She added, however, that this would not really be an issue because, first of all, fishing licenses must be renewed every year as well, and, second, the regulations call for constant monitoring of the situation and it is possible that the situation would be different by next year.

The expert committee also recommended reducing the cormorant bird population around the lake through nonlethal measures, populating the lake at least once a year with 1.5 million young tilapia fish (St. Peter’s fish), and regulating what sorts of nets can be used.

The experts recommended expanding the monitoring of the lake and affirmed that a high water level in the Kinneret was critical for its health.